Brittany Lincicome grew up watching the “Today” show and last week found herself on NBC’s set in Manhattan, watching frigid tourists stare at her through the glass in 5-degree weather.
“I felt like we needed big name tags,” Lincicome said.
LPGA players don’t often take on a New York City media blitz such as the one that Lincicome and Lexi Thompson enjoyed last week. Lincicome, who noted that most of her TV interviews are taped, found out about the details of the LPGA’s new CME Race to the Globe only the night before she was scheduled to promote it. The nerves were cranking when show host Hoda Kotb asked Lincicome to explain the exciting news on live TV. (NBC-owned Golf Channel holds the cable-broadcasts rights to LPGA events.)
Lincicome’s agent, Jeff Chilcoat, said in the past couple of years that he could feel the LPGA moving toward a place of greater exposure, but for whatever reason the stars never aligned. 2014 already has proved to be different.
Now about to enter her 10th season on tour, Lincicome, 28, flew to the Big Apple with an entourage that included boyfriend Dewald Gouws, who recently moved to the U.S. from South Africa. Fifteen pounds lighter and happier than ever, Lincicome got a little starstruck when she saw Mariska Hargitay of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” walk past her outside the “Today” green room. Hargitay also was a guest that day.
From there, Lincicome answered questions for NBC affiliates around the country before taking part in an interview and putting contest at Maxim magazine. She also joined Jon Podany, the LPGA’s chief marketing officer, for Bloomberg TV’s “Taking Stock” and was a guest on ESPN radio and NBC Sports radio. It was a full 12-hour day of national media exposure for one of the LPGA’s most likeable players.
Lincicome originally was slated to be in Phoenix last week for a session with her mental coaches from Vision54. Instead, she flew from New York to Dallas early Thursday for Brittany Lang’s wedding festivities. Lincicome and Lang grew up playing against each other on the AJGA, and Lincicome served as her Solheim Cup teammate’s maid of honor. Other LPGA bridesmaids included fellow Texans Angela Stanford and Katie Futcher, plus Paula Creamer. Lincicome said she got to bed at 3 a.m. three nights that week, and anyone who knows Lincicome knows she requires 10 hours. Naps also are recommended.
On Monday, a sleep-deprived Lincicome hosted a charity event for the fifth consecutive year to benefit The First Tee of St. Petersburg, Fla., near her Seminole hometown. She woke up from a nap Tuesday afternoon to read the good news: The event had raised about $90,000.
“This is crazy,” Lincicome texted along with a trio of smiley faces. “I didn’t know it would be this much.”
When Lincicome got involved with the program five years ago, organizers couldn’t even find 18 teams to fill the golf course. Now there’s a waiting list to play, and friends such as LPGA players Morgan Pressel, Jessica Korda and Sandra Gal come out to sweeten the pot along with former pro boxers and retired football and baseball players.
“It’s an honor they allow me to be a part of it,” Lincicome said when about her involvement.
One of the most talked-about parts of the Brittany & Friends Celebrity Pro-Am is the marshmallow-hitting contest. The winner hit it about 30 yards with a 6-iron.
“The guy who won got a lot of roll,” Lincicome said.
The goal is to raise enough money to build an after-school building where kids can do their homework and enjoy a safe haven. Lincicome said the woman who helps run her event keeps snacks in her desk drawer for kids who don’t get enough food at home. She’d like to serve meals there, too.
“You never know where the next Annika Sorenstam or Tiger Woods is coming from,” Lincicome said. “I just know how expensive it was for our family.”
A five-time winner on the LPGA, Lincicome turned professional out of high school and grew up on tour. Close friend Stacy Lewis said they hardly talk about golf when they stay together on the road, but in addition to Lincicome’s great length, Lewis points to her touch around the greens as an area of strength. Lewis said Lincicome often complains about her chipping, when in fact she’s among the best on tour.
“She has great hands,” Lewis said.
Lincicome’s success, in large part, comes down to her self-belief. Thus the importance of making it to Phoenix this offseason to meet with Vision54. She now hopes to go in February, before the LPGA’s season-opener Jan. 23-26 in the Bahamas.
Lewis and Lincicome were returning from South Korea in late October 2012 when Lincicome rerouted her flight to land in Las Vegas so that she could watch a friend compete in the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship. That’s where she met Gouws, a former runner-up in the event who was in the stands watching. The two hit it off, and Lincicome flew to South Africa four times last season to see him.
“It’s not close to anything!” Lincicome said of her 12- to 15-hour flights.
Lewis never has seen her friend so happy. Gouws quit his job with Mercedes-Benz and recently moved to the U.S. to spend more time pursuing Lincicome and his long-drive goals. They are golf’s ultimate power couple.
“She needs that balance off the golf course,” Lewis said. “Everyone needs to find someone or something off the course that helps you find balance and perspective.”
Last season, Lincicome finished a ho-hum 32nd on the money list ($449,113), with only three top 10s. At the beginning of 2013, Lincicome, a feel player, tried to work with a former instructor and tinker with her clubs. It proved to be too much.
Looking back, Lincicome thinks that taking off last December was a bogey on her part. She’s not at all prepared for next week’s season-opener. But she’s not really sweating it, either.
“I am so happy right now and in love,” Lincicome said. “Hopefully I can have the best of both worlds.”